FRUSTRATIONS ON BUYBACKS
Paroo Mayor calls for answers on water loss
PAROO Shire Mayor Lindsay Godfrey has accused the Federal Government of cutting his shire out of sensitive water buyback negotiations and putting another nail in the coffin of the struggling region.
Cr Godfrey said he understood the region, centred around Cunnamulla, was set to lose a small amount of water from its allocation but was astounded when he discovered the government was recovering nearly a third of its 62.1 gigalitre entitlement in the Warrego River.
The purchase of the rights from private landowners means less water is available for land irrigation locally.
A review of entitlements in the northern Murray-Darling Basin has recommended irrigators in the northern basin, which includes large parts of Queensland, return
320 gigalitres to the commonwealth.
“We are really struggling and this is another nail in the coffin,” Mr Godfrey said.
“We’ve got a small community that’s having a struggle to survive, we’ve got the audit office breathing down our neck as a shire about being unsustainable, we’ve got a lot of costs in Cunnamulla and our rate base is quite small.”
Maranoa MP David Littleproud said the Federal Government had to finalise the buybacks by 2019 and was making the best of a bad situation.
“In terms of the impacts, I have lived in a lot of these communities and I understand what the power of a megalitre can do not just for the primary producers but also for the small businesses,” Mr Littleproud said.
He said a willing seller in Cunnamulla had contacted the government and negotiated directly with the department.
“The local government does not have the remit over water resources, which is why they weren’t consulted, but they were advised of the purchase prior to any press releases and I had that conversation personally,” he said.
BUYBACK FRUSTRATION: Cunnamulla Mayor Lindsay Godfrey on the banks of the town’s weir.